Altermatt named BOHS ‘Varsity Athlete of Character’

Wildcat A&E Co-Editor Melea Altermatt — who was presented with the Orange County Female Varsity Athlete of Character Award on Jan. 31 — reflects on what the word ‘character’ means to her.

Senior+Melea+Altermatt+celebrates+her+Orange+County+Athlete+with+Character+patch+awarded+to+her+on+Jan.+31.+One+male+and+one+female+were+given+this+award+from+each+high+school+in+Orange+County.+

Kenzie Ellison

Senior Melea Altermatt celebrates her Orange County Athlete with Character patch awarded to her on Jan. 31. One male and one female were given this award from each high school in Orange County.

“Hustle. Hit. Never quit.” 

This mantra, written across the back of one of my cheer spirit wear shirts, serves as a reminder to each athlete of what is expected of them each time we run through a routine. It reminds me of industriousness, dedication, and perseverance, all qualities which helped me earn the Orange County Female Varsity Athlete of Character Award. 

I was presented this award by Jill Matyuch, girl’s athletic director, on Jan. 31, and given an orange-shaped patch embroidered with “Athlete with Character.” This award was presented to one male and one female student-athlete from each high school in Orange County. 

But what is “character”? And does character define who we are? 

Character is universal. Everyone has character, but it is up to an individual to decide how one presents themselves in a way that highlights honorable character. Living honestly, following a moral code, being guided by faith, existing selflessly are just a few of the many ways that define someone’s character.

Athletes with character are expected to have “performance” character traits – self-discipline, perseverance, mental toughness – along with the typical personal character traits, like compassion, positivity, and honesty. These two types of character qualities, according to Athlete Assessments, “work together to deliver winning results on and off the field.” Research has proven that focusing on personal characteristics before performance characteristics leads to “more sustainable results.” 

I live my life by the aphorism, “Do it even if no one is watching.” Be kind even when no one is watching; do what is right even when no one is watching. When I was younger, I wanted to be the type of person who is trustworthy, responsible, and reliable. During my cheer practices, for instance, coaches may not always watch every move we make, but performing to the best of our abilities at all times is what sets an individual with character apart. This short phrase – “Do it even if no one is watching.” – has been a constant reminder of how to do that. 

Also shaping my character are my faith, family, and friends. I live in a family-oriented environment with role model parents, my relationship with God is a priority, and I have friends who provide unconditional support and good influence. 

(Another way that good character is achieved is through pop culture. Singer Harry Styles’s anthem “Treat People with Kindness,” celebrates acceptance and empowerment through kindness, and “bad-boys-turned-good” Steve Harrington from Stranger Things, and Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries, are fan favorites due to their goodness and redemption.) 

But regardless of personal circumstances, anyone can achieve good character. We can all strive to live honestly and “do the right thing.” It is just up to us, as individuals, to decide how our characters represent us.